Why We Shouldn’t Worry About the New Covid Strains – According to a Top Virologist

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by Will Jones, Daily Sceptic:

A new COVID-19 variant, BA2.86 or ‘Pirola’, has been detected in a few countries. Despite over 30 unique genetic changes, experts aren’t overly concerned, as there’s no evidence of increased severity or spread. The Telegraph has more.

A new, multiply-mutated form of Covid has popped up, spawning some alarming, clickbait headlines. But I’m not overly concerned, and I’ll certainly be off to wish my 102 year-old grandmother “happy birthday” shortly. Here’s why:

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Dubbed BA2.86, the new Omicron spin-off comes hot on the heels of the EG5.1 ‘Eris’ variant – named after the Greek goddess of strife – which first elbowed itself onto the Covid scene in July. Eris is accounting for about 15% of the Covid-19 cases we’re seeing at the moment. Some have suggested that, combined with summer travel, bad weather keeping people indoors and waning population immunity, Eris might be behind the recent uptick in cases.

BA2.86, on the other hand, has been detected in only a few countries so far, including Israel, the U.S. and Denmark. Last week, the U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed one case in this country. This new variant doesn’t earn itself a Greek letter for a name, but instead scientists have nicknamed it ‘Pirola’, a moniker allegedly adopted from social media after an asteroid that loiters between Mars and Jupiter.

Reassuringly, the recorded cases of the new variant have not been more clinically extreme than other circulating forms of the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling BA2.86 a VUM – variant under monitoring – because there’s no evidence that it’s linked to any increase in disease severity or enhanced spread. It’s this that would earn Pirola the title of a VOC – variant of concern – at this stage.

Like Eris, Pirola should also be detectable with a lateral flow test. The guidance for what to do if you think you have it remains the same as for other forms of COVID-19: stay home, manage the symptoms – which include cough, running nose, headache and a temperature – with simple remedies like paracetamol.

Whether Pirola will end up in our orbit and be linked to an outbreak, or is destined to remain consigned to the wilderness in virological space, is impossible to say at this stage with only six cases so far to go on.

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